I finally got a chance to finish watching Stoked and Broke, a now-no-longer-new surf movie that, for a change, actually spoke to me.
There’s a part at the end where a San Diego fellow — a carpenter — speaks about everything he’s done to get to the point where he has a life of integrity, a deep and meaningful relationship with his wife, satisfying work, and the opportunity to surf most every day at home and to surf travel down to Baja for months at a time. Focus, he emphasizes — it takes focus to create a life of meaning and integrity.
Surfing is that focus, for me. There is nothing more focusing than waiting out, on my surfboard, scanning the horizon for a wave, a ripple, a hint of some change while, in the meantime, tracking the positions of the surfers to the right and left of me, before and behind me. A thousand variables, all synthesized into slight variations on leaning to the left or the right, paddling a hair over, or back, keeping position relative to that house, or is it the other one?, or maybe that pole over there would be better, calling out, the faintest glance at another surfer, paddling or pulling back. Focus.
Right now I’m 2.5-3.5 inland from inconsistent and cold waves. Indeed, a joke of a shoulder injury has kept me even from training in the pool or pushups or basically anything related to surfing except the Indo board. To make matters worse, my spouse and I have just suffered personal family tragedy. Focus.
I spend my days studying for the bar. We are trying to move to California, where it is sunny and my spouse can take the first steps on his dream career and I will hold tight to an ethical practice and there is an ocean with real waves. Studying for the bar while dwelling with death is pretty much the worst possible everyday experience imaginable. Focus.
I shut my eyes and think of a beach with waves, me gliding across them. Studying for the bar is a means to an end. Focus.